The Art of Everything By Mary Anne Pankhurst An Interview with Painter Lesley McVicar on the Art of Canine Portraiture


From cave painters to Picasso, man’s best friend has always captured artists’ imaginations.


There are many reasons why.  Among them, dogs – all descendants of Grey Wolves – have for tens of thousands of years given humans so much:  Protection, warmth, hunting and herding assistance, as well as comfort, companionship and affection.  And all these for little more than a warm place by the fire, food, praise and appreciation.


Lesley McVicar is an animal lover; an artist, a UK-trained and certified veterinary nurse, pet owner, caregiver and defender of dogs who fall victim to the kind of breed prejudice that can amplify myths, panic, hatred, politicization, bans, cruelty, animal abandonment and thousands of tragic euthanizations.

(Pitt Bull by Lesley, acrylic on canvas)
july 20 021

So I’ve been gently hounding Lesley for weeks.

It’s not that she’s shy to do an interview. We’ve known each other for the better part of a dog’s age. But Lesley is very modest, and in recent weeks, devoting time to her latest commission: Canine subjects, Sophie and Milo, who are pictured at the top of the page.

And I think Lesley’s “devotion” always reveals itself in her work.  She dignifies the dogs she paints, whether it’s in the style most clients prefer (realism) or her own contemporary impressionism.

(Pitt Bull by Lesley, acrylic on canvas)

Like many painters, Lesley says “light, movement and emotion” are her main interests.  But she also spends a lot of time planning how to capture nuances of the dogs’ personalities.

Her paintings also demonstrate her understanding of anatomy and physiology with particular attention paid to the eyes:

“They have to be perfect.  They have to look as if they’re about to blink.”

And it works.  Lesley says many of her clients laugh and tell her that when they hang the painting at home, their dogs bark at it.

Technically speaking, Lesley’s acrylic works are done in a series layers and glazing techniques; a process she describes as “tearing down then building up” to achieve a convincing portrayal of genetic traits. And she likes big canvasses, big brushes and brush stokes.

Anyone who’d like to find out more about commissioning a pet or wild animal portrait from Lesley, can contact her at the following link:

Remember, if there’s art in what you do, I want to hear from you via

alpins aoe


  1. “They have to look as if they’r about to blink” 🙂 I like that.
    very nice Lesley.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to do this Mary Anne, I really appreciate it ! The feedback has been great !
    Lesley Mcvicar

  3. Thanks Michael, Just one of the weird things that go through my head when I’m staring at a painting trying to figure out what to do next !!
    Lesley McVicar

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